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Live frugally on surprise

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Write in the middle of it.

That’s what someone told me to do. As an introvert, my inclination is to wait until things are settled, processed, and sorted before sharing news in any kind of broad way — but I’m realizing that it might be awhile before things are settled, processed, and sorted, so OH WHAT THE HECK.

A year after moving to Minneapolis (Sunday was my Minneversary), I’ve decided to leave my job, the one I moved across the country for. There are a lot of factors that went into this decision, and it was not one that I made lightly. That said, I have a lot of peace about the decision itself, even though it leaves me staring into a future I can’t yet see.

From a job to the city in which I live, everything feels very much up for grabs right now — and while I’m experiencing a sense of possibility and potential, every idea I explore has a cost, a rub. My friend Leigh Kramer once wrote about the “jar lid click” — the moment when everything lines up — and so far, none of my ideas have led to that intuitive sense of alignment.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I am not the “leap and the net will appear” girl. I am a planner, a preparer, a “that’s not in the budget” pragmatist. The fact that I quit a job without a new plan in place is so out of character, it makes me question everything I thought I knew about myself. (What if I start liking board games?)

But you know what? The best stories of my life have been the things I could never have predicted or manipulated into happening — like once writing a song about a snack bar that landed me a job, or buying the first and only house I looked at (happened in both Denver and Minneapolis), or meeting people I had no idea would change my life (I’m looking at you, Keri Alexander, Kari Medina, Katie Freeze, Carin Towne, a whole slew of folks in Nashville, gal pals in Denver, my nephews, Foxy Brains, and, okay, EVERYONE).

Here is an idea I like:

day282_lowres

I don’t know what’s coming next. But I’m going to try living frugally on surprise, the rhythm and simplicity of the unknown, and see what happens.

Or I might buy a bed & breakfast. (I’ll add it to this list.)

North

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

If you know my sister Becca, you know she’s all about dogs. She always has been; her first word was “woof-woof.” In addition to running a dog rescue (whence came Foxy!), she has three dogs of her own – and they’re like her kids. So when she and my brother-in-law decided to go to Seattle, they called in only the best.

Annie the Dog Nanny.

Foxy and I moved into Becca and Michael’s house on Saturday night, and it’s been the Wild West ever since. I’m playing defense against a collective 200 pounds of canine. Things I will need to replace before they get home: Bulleit and a lot of chocolate chips.

In the midst of it all, I am wrapping up my job, selling my house, and looking for a new place to live – because I forgot to tell you:

I’m moving to Minnesota.

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at work. I am leaving what has been a gift of a job for what is sure to be a challenging, soulful adventure of a next chapter: I’m moving to Minneapolis to work for my favorite public radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.

For over eight years, this has been a blog mostly about my feelings – so don’t think I’m going to stop now.

What can I say about my 5 ½ years in Denver? They have been the toughest years of my life, minus 6th grade when all of the girls turned mean. Cancer brought me here, divorce made me stay. I watched my family disintegrate, and a few relationships of my own. I’ve said such horrible things to God, it’s a wonder he still loves me. I’ve lost hope, battled depression, and numbed the pain with all sorts of soul novocain.

Denver made me write this song. (And as always, forgive the guitar.)

[UPDATE: Song has been taken down. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]

But it’s not lost on me that the hardest years were spent in the most beautiful place. It’s like someone knew I would need the beauty.

I’ve walked thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve climbed mountains – I’m up to 35 14ers, with 19 to go. I spent 11 days on a solo backpacking trip, digging deeper than I knew I could dig. I’ve learned to own my finances, my career, a dog, and a house. If Seattle is where I became Annie and Nashville is where I became a woman (gross, sorry for saying that), Denver is where I became an adult – a reluctant transition, but true nonetheless. I’ve made a handful of incredible girlfriends, the kind that make it hard to leave. I’ve been to counseling – gracious, have I been to counseling. I’ve stopped blaming my parents for everything that’s wrong in my life.

As it turns out, I am sad to leave Denver – but not as excited as I am for a new adventure.

I will miss my perfect tiny house and my friends and the weather and the mountains. But I know that there’s something for me in Minnesota – lakes and forests and people and meaningful work. And mosquitos. And snow. But I’m choosing to believe that richness awaits. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I can’t wait to learn it for myself. I might even start going to church again.

Until then, I am frantically wrapping up my time with LÄRABAR/General Mills. Yesterday I wrote a “manual” for how to do my job. So far it’s 17 pages long. I’m getting my ducks in a row to sell my house, and looking for another in Minneapolis (tell me, is 40% of my income too much to spend on a mortgage?).

And I’m dog-sitting for my sister. Maybe these dogs will come visit me in Minnesota.

My roots are up, and I’m headed north. There is so much to be nervous about, and so much to be grateful for. Thanks for sticking with me, no matter the gap between posts, no matter the city in which I live.

See you soon, Minneapolis!

Minneapolis

A little good Fortune

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Anyone who knows me knows that a professional publication would be an unlikely place to find me. I wear yoga pants to work. I tell my manager about my feelings. I’ve never had a career path or a 5-year plan. My degree is in music, for crying out loud.

But somehow (you know how), I wound up employed by one of this year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For – and wonder of wonders, I was recently contacted by Fortune Magazine to chat about how I got my job.

The interview is here – check it out for a glimpse of me being hashtag totes profesh. Maybe that music degree came in handy after all?

The steady season

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Yesterday, a relatively new acquaintance asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” She was asking about my career path, I suppose – to which my answer is always a shoulder shrug. I’ve never been one with a bullseye plan for my professional life – I just try to do my very best wherever I happen to be, and take each next step as it comes.

I’m learning to see my life in seasons. There have been seasons when I’ve been a freewheeling gypsy, tumbling from place to place with no rhyme or reason, living on scrambled eggs and dreams. Sometimes (a lot of times) I miss those days. But right now, I’m in a season of stability, a chapter of routine.

And despite the occasional call of the wild, this season is good.

I wake up each morning around 6:30, and start the coffee pot that I readied the night before. Toad goes outside, then comes in to eat her breakfast (which I sprinkle with shredded cheese because she is old and 3-legged and I just figure she needs as much happiness as she can get). I fry an egg and mix a little granola into a tiny cup of yogurt, and take my breakfast back to my bed where I usually read for a little while.

When I finally motivate myself to actually get up and go to work, I pull my lunch out of the fridge (packed the night before, of course), and either say goodbye to Toad or bring her with me. She comes to the office with me one day a week and gets dropped off with Becca another day, leaving 3 days when she’s home alone. On those days, I run home at lunch and take her for a walk around the block, then sit with her on the front porch for a few minutes. I’m convinced that no one in the world loves me as much as Toad – not to say that people don’t love me well, but just that this dog’s enthusiasm for me is over the top.

Every day at work looks a little different, as I juggle plenty of different projects. Some constants: email, social media, writing, planning, organizing, mailing, and making sure that everything I do is legal.

I try to keep weeknights low-key. I come home and eat a bowl of soup (that I cooked in the Crock-Pot over the weekend), and eventually go to the gym around 7:30. Then I head home to take a shower and go to bed and then start the whole thing over again the next day.

Nothing is flashy these days. I’m not jet-setting around the country like I have in previous seasons. I’m not dating. I’m not going to many parties or events. I’m not climbing any mountains. I’m not “accomplishing” much of anything, unless you count being a good employee and keeping Toad alive – both of which are worthwhile goals, by the way.

Sometimes, the wanderlust tries to convince me to break out of this routine and do something crazy, something that makes me come alive, something risky but beautiful. A trusted friend sent me a text the other day, urging me to do a thing that I’ve always wanted to do – and entertaining the idea of being bold and brave slapped my heart awake. I know that one day, it will be time for that tumbleweed season again.

But today, I am steady. Today, I believe it’s good. And I just wanted to write it down to remind myself.

What I “do”

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

I changed jobs at the beginning of the year, and have spent the last several months learning what it is that I “do.”

Here is my conclusion: my job is pretty cool.

I work on the marketing team for LÄRABAR, which is a brand that I was smitten with long before I was ever connected to; my title is “Community Host,” which I couldn’t love more. A series of hilarious events led to where I stand today, and I don’t hesitate saying that I think I have one of the best “how I got the job” stories of anyone I know.

But lest you go thinking that my entire role revolves around jingle writing, let me tell you about some other cool things I’ve been up to.

First of all, I’m paid to be on Facebook and Twitter. I’m the “voice of the brand,” and channeling the LÄRABAR personality gives me an excuse to use exclamation points – something I rarely do in real life. *Like* LÄRABAR on Facebook, and delight in the secret knowledge that every status update you see is posted by yours truly.

Another part of my job is to help give free stuff away. Blog giveaways, surprising friends of the brand, sweepstakes – the joy of giving is alive. For example, do you like the Avett Brothers? Do you live in Colorado? Then you should enter this sweepstakes I helped organize with the City of Denver.

LÄRABAR has a new bar called über, and it’s super delicious. We built and launched the über Gallery on our website, and are featuring photos and videos of friends who are living life in a bold and unique way. Check out the current content – you may see some familiar faces – and then submit your own “über moments,” because you are wicked awesome.

The biggest project of the summer is hosting the LÄRABAR Half Marathon with 5K and Kids 1K. Have I ever put on a race before? No. Has anyone on the team? No. But we are learning a lot, and prepping for a crazy-huge undertaking – and if I may be so bold, I think it’s going to be fantastic. If you’re looking for a race to run in August, we’d love to see you there – the registration will be live in the next few days.

Mainly, my daily routine consists of not having a routine, holding a million details in my brain, and telling everyone I know that LÄRABAR is the greatest little fruit & nut bar on the planet. If you’ve never tried one, I highly recommend Peanut Butter & Jelly, Coconut Cream Pie, Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte, Cashew Cookie, and Blueberry Muffin.

New year, new job, new life

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Do you miss me the way that I miss you?

Because I miss you.

I didn’t mean to stop blogging.  But for me, “stopping blogging” is a lot like “starting eating” – if I don’t pay attention, it just happens.  And then it’s been days, and then weeks, and I’m a wreck, moaning about how my life has no meaning or purpose and I’LL NEVER BE SKINNY AGAIN.

This cannot happen.  I WILL NOT ABIDE BY IT.  I must blog.

So, let’s play catch up.  It will be fun, and you will love it.

The numero uno, top tier piece of information from my life that I have to tell you is that I adore my new job.  I adore it.  It’s busy and dynamic and fun, and incorporates a lot of things that I love (writing, social media, ideas, relationships, to-do lists, generosity, details, travel).  It’s good for me to be out of the house, no longer working from home.  I am consistently wearing outfits – honest-to-goodness outfits – for the first time in over a year.  I am showering on a schedule.  I am talking to other humans in real life.  I am using my brain in fun ways, and getting to know the natural foods industry, and Tebowing on a regular basis out of sheer gratitude for the opportunity.

Speaking of Tebow, oh my gracious.  Did anyone else watch the Broncos on Sunday?  I did.  At the next door neighbor’s house – who I don’t even know.  But what can I say?  My decision to become a Broncos fan is bringing me into a new sphere, one with dual flatscreen TVs and crockpots of chili and really nice people and flags on the plays (which I pretend to understand and then get indignant about).  Living three blocks from the stadium, our Sunday evening was loud and giddy.  If you ever want to feel a part of a city, just start rooting for their sports teams.  Take it from me: insta-community-builder.

It’s a snowy, snowy day in Denver today.  But Subaruthless got me up the hill that all of the other cars were stuck on.  And because I don’t own a single pair of leggings, I am wearing my running tights under a long sweater and my black boots.

I’m ready for anything.

Second place

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Today is my last day at Emma.

My sweetie friend Miles – the one who played guitar for my original LÄRABAR song, the one who gave me my most favorite nickname of all time (“Persnicket”), the one who makes work so much more fun – made me this.

That?  Is awesome.  And hilarious.

Thanks for the wonderful years, Emma.  Thanks for introducing me to some of the greatest people in my life.  Thanks for the chance to make Nashville home.  Thanks for acting as training wheels for my transition to Denver, and now launching me out on my own.  Thanks for teaching me how to talk to all sorts of people, and giving me the confidence to confront conflict, and guiding me toward grace under pressure.  Thank you for being exactly the right place during exactly the right time.

I kind of feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Except for… um, her?

Really, internet?  Really?

Well, so, okay.  Second place, I guess.

The time I said “EXPLODE” to homeland security

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

So there I was at the Denver airport, heaving my bulging black suitcase onto the conveyor belt for the x-ray machine. This was just my carry-on – my REAL bag (a behemoth red Samsonite) had already been found 6 lbs. overweight at the ticket counter, leading me to put on my boots and jacket, stuff my curling iron and jewelry into my purse, and relegate various items of detritus to my smaller suitcase.

As the carry-on inched toward the x-ray machine, the TSA agent observed the swollen vessel, and made a comment that he didn’t know that it would make it through the machine.

“I know!” I laughed. “It’s about to explode!”

And right then and there, all of the air was sucked out of Denver International Airport.

The silence coddled the word like an overindulgent mother.

Explode.

EXPLODE.

I literally clapped my hand over my mouth, realizing what I had done – and then I sprung into action.

“Haha, I mean explode with my stuff. My STUFF – nothing dangerous, nothing sharp. I mean, except for high heels! Haha!”

No one else was laughing.

“Ma’am, we’re going to need to take a look in your bag.”

I was led to a sterile table where a blue-gloved person (man? woman? man?) asked, “If I open this bag, will anything harm me?”

“No! No, not at all,” I rushed. “All that’s in there is shoes. Oh, and a bunch of computer things. And I guess some snacks.”

Snacks is right.

The agent slowly, hesitantly, cautiously unzipped the suitcase, and beheld the contents.  “Ma’am, why do you have so many energy bars?”

Full disclosure: in my bag were hundreds of LÄRABARs.

“Well, those are for my co-workers in Nashville.”

“Okay…?”

And then, without further prompting, it all came tumbling out. “I resigned with the company – just last week, actually. I’ve been working for an email marketing company that’s based in Nashville – but I’m switching jobs. To LÄRABAR, actually. They’re based in Denver – I live in Denver. I just wanted to bring my Nashville friends some bars – as a little farewell, I guess.”

There it was. And there it is.

The suddenly indifferent agent waved me through security and all the way to Nashville, where I’ve given the bars to my friends at Emma – an understated thank you for the three years of support, camaraderie, and friendship they have given me.

Come January, I’ll join the marketing team for LÄRABAR, a brand that I have been evangelizing on my own for years. I am leaving an incredible company for another incredible company, which is not lost on me: this basically makes me the luckiest girl in the world. This is one of those moments where I can look back and see how the complicated, jagged-edged pieces have fit together perfectly, creating a gigantic flashing arrow, pointing me toward this next step.

So my suitcase may be emptier – but as much as my heart is tempted to feel the same (after all, I am giving up what has been a very good thing), it’s actually full to overflowing. I will spend the next week with some of my favorite people in Nashville, and then gently close the door on what has been a beautiful season in my life.

The goodbye is bittersweet, but the future feels warm and bright. In fact, my heart is exploding with sprinkles.

Just don’t tell TSA.

In search of motivation

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I think that the best way to get me to do something is for someone to tell me that they don’t think I can do it.

Actually, here’s how it really goes.  Someone tells me that they don’t think I can do it, and I believe them.  I get sad and discouraged.  I probably cry a little bit.  I walk around with a dazed focus, like I’m trying to solve a Magic Eye picture but to no avail.  I feel helpless and defeated.

Then, I get angry.

Then, I get defensive.

Then, I get motivated.

Then, I get so staggeringly stubborn, there’s no way on earth I won’t achieve whatever it is that someone has said that I won’t do.

So.

Will someone please tell me that they don’t think I can roll over my 403b into my 401k?  It’s been on the to-do list for 3 years now.  I mean, come on.

And while you’re at it, can you tell me that you don’t think I’ll EVER get renter’s insurance?  Or perhaps that I will live without knobs on the top two drawers of my dresser for the rest of my life?  Or that I’ll eat cookies forever, and without ceasing?

Thanks.

Creepy shenanigans

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Yesterday, my co-worker Molly got a text from an unknown number that said, “I know where you live.”

I have no patience for creepy shenanigans like that, so I had her give me the phone number.  A quick bit of internet/phone sleuthing later, and I discovered the anonymous texter’s identity – a pre-adolescent boy in the Bay Area, most likely pranking random numbers to freak people out.

So I suggested what any gracious human being would: that she write back, “No, Patrick: I know where YOU live.”

So.  Awesome.

And So. Creepy.

– – – – – – – –

Now feels like the right time to publicly declare how much I love and appreciate my co-workers.  I am the only person from my team out in Denver, so I spend the entire day corresponding with my teammates through technological means (IM, video chats, conference calls).  And every day, without fail, I find myself silently giggling at my computer screen.

These people are wonderful.  They make me laugh so hard.  And one of them was in “Ernest Scared Stupid” – I’M NOT EVEN JOKING.

I feel so, so lucky to be a part of a team of people who care so well for each other, who approach each day with a positive attitude, and who keep me thoroughly entertained every single day.